Dogs may not be able to speak, but they can certainly say sorry. Reading their body language and keeping an eye on their behavior can tell you what’s going on in your dog’s head. And if you know what signs to look for, you can even tell when they’re trying to apologize.

How Do Dogs Apologize?

Before we dive into how dogs say sorry, we need to take a look at who they’re apologizing to.

How Do Dogs Say Sorry to Humans?

Apologizing to humans serves more than just moral remorse. If you catch your dog in mischief, and they say sorry, they hope to soothe your nerves and prevent you from getting angry.

One of the common ways your dog will try to say sorry is by making “puppy eyes” or tucking its tail between its legs. Avoiding eye contact and lowering their ears are also common ways for dogs to apologize.

They also watch for your reaction. Your facial expression is all they need to see to know if you have accepted their apology. 

Other ways your dog might say sorry are:

  • Hiding in a corner
  • Stops wagging its tail
  • Nuzzling or kicking you
  • Curling against your toes
  • Droopy ears

How Do Dogs Say Sorry to Other Dogs?

While we don’t speak “dog”, there may be a way dogs apologize to each other. Usually though, dogs tend to simply walk away after a fight with another dog.

After a while, they may reconcile, with the offending dog expressing regret through body language.

How to React to Your Dog’s Apology

Now that you know how your dog apologizes, you also want to forgive your dog after showing remorse. This helps to make them feel less insecure and self-conscious. Forgiving your dog also prevents it from becoming withdrawn and stressed. 

As long as you let them know that they were naughty without anger or aggression, they’ll know their apology was accepted.

Dog Psychology Behind the Apology

Dog psychology studies the social interactions and thought processes of dogs. It also studies how they create bonds with other dogs and humans. Dog psychology associates many theories with dog behaviors, including their methods of saying sorry.

Studies show that dogs express apologetic gestures because of the reaction they get from you. For instance, when you yell, your dog knows it has done something wrong. So, it relates it to its previous actions when you’ve reacted that way and repeat it. 

There hasn’t been any study to show that dogs truly understand what they did wrong. They typically act based on your reaction to their actions. As a result, it seems like an apology when they respond to you with body language.

How Should You Say Sorry to Your Dog?

Hurting your dog or leaving it alone at home all day can make it feel neglected and lonely. When this happens, it’s important to show that you’re sorry. Dogs are intelligent animals, so they’ll know you’re sincere. So, if you need to apologize to your dog, there are a couple of ways to go about it. 

5 Ways to Say Sorry to Your Dog 

  • Don’t shout or raise your voice
  • A pat on the head or back will go a long way
  • You can ruffle its furs or carry it in your arms
  • You can use soothing words or phrases 
  • Give your dog its favorite treat

When you make your dog feel safe and comfortable, it tends to warm up to you more often. 

You should also learn to respect your dog’s private space. Showing a positive attitude and gestures will also go a long way to showing your dog that you are sorry.

Learn More About Dog Behavior as a Veteran

At Sierra Delta, our mission is to empower every Veteran to better connect with their dog and improve their own quality of life. And that involves learning a lot more about your dog.

We provide Veterans with access to approved dog training, be it traditional service dog training or our Life Buddy Program. Our community believes that dog companionship provides purpose and innovation, and we make learning with your canine friends our priority.

Join us today to find out more about how Sierra Delta can help empower you and your dog!

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